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The Sound of Silence

April 22, 2021

About me

Well, it’s been a while since I blogged, so an introduction is in order.

I’m David, a music reviewer and EFL Teacher who you will find on Twitter under @music_pearce should you be interested in my music reviews.

‘Aye, there’s the rub’ as Hamlet observed. My reviewing has come to a grinding halt over the last few months due to an ongoing and serious bout of hearing loss. I haven’t done a review since mid-March and the hearing problem is still not close to being sorted out for various reasons. However, I won’t bore you with the medical maze I have found myself in, because that’s the cause rather than the subject of this blog. What I will reflect on is the effect of having sound in general and music in particular taken away from you, albeit temporarily (I hope), when it has been central to your whole life.

It’s not all bad

So what’s it been like, and by the way I am in no sense comparing myself to someone who is profoundly deaf, for a hearing person to be plunged into a silent world?  

Oddly enough, I have seen a couple of definite upsides.

First, it has made me concentrate far more on the television rather than just seeing it as a background noise whilst scrolling through my phone. I am now reliant on subtitles so if I really want to follow a programme the phone has to be put to one side. I am definitely becoming more selective. Instead of watching something just for the sake of it I am actively choosing to make an effort for a programme I genuinely want to see. That is definitely something I intend to continue with even when my hearing returns. Although I am watching less I am getting more out of it.

Second, I have been reading way more than I have in the rest of lockdown because it is one pleasure that requires no hearing at all. In fact, muffled hearing is actually a benefit because you get less distracted! I read six books in the week I took off of work and I have carried on reading voraciously since then. I know I will read less once my hearing comes back but I have definitely got the bug again!

Here’s the other side of the coin

There is of course a fairly massive downside, namely that it’s incredibly isolating mentally, on top of the isolation that the lockdown has imposed upon us physically. You feel as though you cannot take part in the world because it presumes you can hear. I can go shopping only if I know I won’t have to communicate with the person in the shop. Without the physical cues like facial expressions and rudimentary lip reading, that you lose anyway because of the necessary mask use, you can’t even really make a guess as to what is being said on many occasions. At home, my wife and daughter find that they have to shout at me or text me to get my attention! Depending on the mood I’m in I can find this amusing or annoying. It constantly has you wondering if you are missing out on something.

My music history

Now we come onto music. I genuinely can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a joy, a comfort, an education, and an obsession. I started sitting in front of Top of the Pops at the age of six and barely missed an episode for the next 15 years at least. My earliest musical heroes were Slade, The Osmonds – despite being apparently the wrong gender! – and, oddly, Don McLean. American Pie just entranced me from the first time I heard it and Vincent is still one of my favourite records ever.

I got my own cassette player on Christmas Day at the age of 9. Accompanying the player were two cassettes, Disney Parade of Hits and Keep on Wombling. I played both incessantly that morning and for most of the next few months! Then I discovered 7” singles and proceeded to buy over 600 of them in the next 15 years along with over 100 albums. My passion was fixed for the rest of my life. I always wanted to review music for a living, or write about sport, and I used to write about both in my bedroom to practice for my future career – which sadly never materialised.

Rediscovering my passion

The passion for writing about music never left me though and I eventually found a regular creative outlet. About 5 years ago I started providing music reviews for Subba Cultcha and have since racked up over 100 album, gig and festival reviews. A year or so back I joined the team at Rockposer and have done another 20 plus reviews. Finally, on @music_pearce I invented my own hashtag #560reviews which sees me distil the essence of a song into two tweets.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, I wanted to get across how much of an impact the loss of my hearing is having not just on my day to day life, but also my creative life. It was my birthday in March and, as usual, I got a number of CDs – yes, still old school! – but I haven’t been able to listen to any of them. Seeing them sitting there unplayed is incredibly irritating and with no end in sight to this saga that irritation remains. I have a backlog of tracks from the independent artists that I try to publicise on my twitter feed. A lot of these tracks are by incredibly talented young artists who are trying to get more people to hear their work. Without being too boastful I feel that I have helped a number of them to reach audiences they wouldn’t have done otherwise. The fact that I can’t listen to their tracks and review them properly really frustrates and upsets me. That said, as I was writing that sentence I had a brainwave and put up a post, tagging all the artists who had sent me a DM, inviting them to post their latest track in reply which I would then retweet. It may not be the same but it’s something!

I very much hope and trust that this deafness will be sorted out before long, but I feel that there have been valuable, hard-won insights that I have gained, and which will stand me in good stead in the future.

From → Music

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